Good morning, sisters and brothers. Well, those of you in the audience who know me know that I have a real interest in gender issues; some of you know that I specialized in such things in school. And I continue to read about and think about these things quite a bit. And I think I can finally say that I have come to a conclusion.
And my conclusion is this: the Church is sexist. (Steal glance over shoulder at bishop’s face if possible.) And, quite frankly, (pause here for effect) I don’t know why you men put up with it.
I have tried every apologetic tactic, every twisted reading of scripture and policy that I can think of, but in the last analysis, the current doctrine and practice of the Church just simply isn’t fair to men. And I cannot remain silent any longer while my brothers suffer. Let me share with you some of my observations.
First, although I know that you, my dear brothers, serve worthily in the positions to which you are called, I also know that many faithful LDS men wonder why their spheres are so limited. You know that you will never lead the Primary; you know that you will not be allowed to work with young children without supervision; and you feel the limitation. You struggle with this, I know. You know which part of the building our Savior would visit, should he come to our meetings here today, and you know that your gender is grossly underrepresented there. You feel the sting, and I feel for you. I want to assure you that this division of labor in no way implies that God loves you any less than he does his daughters.
You long for equity in your marriage relationships, for you know that this is pleasing to the heavens. But then you also know that the General Handbook of Instructions makes clear that, when it comes to the most important decision couples will make, having children, it is your wife, and not you, who will have the greater voice. You struggle with this, and wonder where is justice. Please be assured, my dear brethren, that God cares as much for His sons as He does for his daughters.
You work long hours, many of you, to support your families. But you know that your work, be you lawyer, doctor, or farmer, is not of an eternal nature. You see your wives getting to devote their best efforts to children; to work that is eternal; to work with rewards that span the eternities; and you know that the rewards of your work are filthy lucre, and you wonder why the powers that be have once again limited your sphere to such trivial things. You know, of course, that if God were to fill out one of those forms, the most correct box to check for occupation would be ‘stay-at-home parent’, and you weep that you are denied the privilege of following in the divine footsteps. I feel your pain.
You turn to the scriptures for solace, as we all should. Just don’t turn to the Gospel of Mark. We know of the searing gender inequities in this text, in what most believe to be the earliest Gospel, in this precious record of the life of Christ. We find the male disciples plodding along, mere foils for Jesus to educate, while the women around Jesus time and again display faithfulness and prophetic gifts in abundance. We know this makes you question your very worth as sons of the divine. We know this hurts. We know that you know that not a single story relates either resurrection or raising from the dead without including women as main characters in the story. We know you wonder about this.
I know how difficult it is for you to even go to Church, where your Elder’s Quorum instructors apologize for not preparing a lesson, while you know that next door, the Relief Society teacher may very well be apologizing for not preparing a centerpiece. You know that women’s classes and meetings in Church are generally better prepared, more open, and more meaningful. I know you wonder why this is. You are full aware that the main job of the Elder’s Quorum is to move heavy things, while your sisters in the Relief Society take care of each other in a truly profound way; sisters bind the broken hearts and heal the wounded souls; men move pianos. We nonetheless want to assure you that you are truly full participants in God’s plan of salvation.
I want you to know, my dear brothers, that all of the injustices you suffer due to your gender in this earthly state will be recompensed in the eternities.